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December 13, 2013
Continued from November 29th

A Post HS Autobiographical Sketch of Cecil R.Hall
Our billets were in the Ball Room, we messed in the kitchen and set up our signal equipment in the Ladies Powder Room and established our motor pool in the parking lot, north side of the Lodge on Orange Ave. How many of you remember that night in early Spring of 1942 when the West Coast was blacked out, the Coastal Artillery shot off all their big guns, shattering windows for miles around the antiaircraft guns shooting wildly at shadows in the sky? I had just come off of my shift of radio signal surveillance and was pounding my ear in my bunk in the ball room of the Elks Lodge when that pandemonium shattered the night air. While in Pasadena I had another opportunity for a career change. I accepted, with alacrity, a student pilot position in the Army Air Force. This change in military duties relieved my ear drums from the constant hammering of crashes of atmospheric static, mingled with garbles of dots and dashes, 24/7, which was an ear numbing experience. My flight training began at Cal Aero, Ontario, (now Chino Airport) in an open cockpit all fabric single engine biplane. No night flying, just fair weather fun flying. Then came the 2nd phase of training at Lancaster (now LA County Sheriff’s Prison), in a low wing single engine aircraft equipped for night flying. This was a totally new frightening experience for us novice pilots. The night time space over the Mojave Desert on a cold February night is a huge scary black hole. No moon, no stars, all we could see was the exhaust flame from the throbbing engine. We kept our eyes fixed on the flight instruments, especially the compass and altimeter. It was ‘white knuckle’ flying! That said and done and following a thumbs up, we were given a choice; a single engine or multi-engine future. I didn’t score well in acrobatics so I chose a multi-engine future, and besides, I preferred having more than one engine at my fingertips. My final phase of flight training was received at Douglas AZ, in the Cochise Valley just across the border of Old Mexico, in the twin engine aircraft. On May 1943 I was awarded my Silver Wings and a Gold Bar commission in the Army Air Force. With that thrill behind me I was posted to Randolph Field TX for Flight Instructor Training then returned to Douglas AZ to begin teaching Aviation Cadets the fine art of flying. With my leave approved I caught the SP Train westward bound to Pasadena for my 4 August 1943 wedding. In September 1944 The Aviation Cadet Program came to its end and the mission of Douglas Army Air Field changed to training Chinese Pilots for Chinese General Chiang Kai-shek. I was at Douglas just long enough to have an orientation ride in the B-25, the aircraft to be used for training the Chinese Pilots.

My next career path change was a posting to Palm Springs, CA to a unit of the Ferry Division of the Air Transport Command. The Pilots assigned to the Palm Spring Unit ferried new aircraft from factories to modification centers and ports of embarkation. My Douglas AZ classmates and I had logged many flying hours while instructing student pilots but only in two engine trainers. We needed some ‘heavy multiple engine’ aircraft experience before going overseas hence the Palm Springs assignment. While there I qualified in and delivered, many of the multi-engine aircraft that were listed in the AAF inventory at that time. My first child was born 15 February 1945 in the US Army Hospital located in the arroyo beneath the Colorado Blvd. Bridge, Pasadena while I was delivering a B-17 to a modification center near Atlanta, GA. That said and done my piloting shifted to India, to an air base in upper Assam Valley. The air base was located on a tea plantation on the south of the Brahmaputra River. Our mission was to deliver aviation fuel to the Bombers and Fighters operating in China. Our cargo loads consisted of 21 fifty gallon steel drums of high octane gasoline per deliver over the Himalayan Mountains (aka ‘The Hump.’) Flight time saw 7 hours round trip, day or night, fair weather and foul.
To be continued…
(Stu- I never knew a man who did so much.)

Stu’s Notes:
Well we had our Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony last Saturday at the Gridley Cemetery. There was a little better attendance this year, maybe close to 50 people . Two Pearl harbor survivors made it out there that bitter cold day, Vere Gardner and Homer Land. I knew Vere from the many times we met at the Gridley Fairgrounds for this ceremony in the past. Like most of the survivors Vere and Homer are over 90 years old; in fact you would have a hard time finding any WWII veterans under 85. Ed Kawasaki who I’ve met before did a wonderful job of leading us through the program starting with a flag salute. I proudly got to stand behind Homer and Vere. They also had a missing man table and rang the bell for those who fell in battle. The bell was rung by Dan Marinella. Both he and Ed Kawasaki are members of the Gridley VFW and American Legion they all looked so neat in their uniforms and the honor guard fired a 3 gun salute. The ceremony ended with taps. All this took place in front of the S2cWarren McCutchen Memorial way in back of the Gridley Cemetery. Warren is the young 17 year old Gridley, Navy man that died at Pearl Harbor, probably the first to die that sad day Dec 7 1941.